Leading Aircraftman Raymond Solinas, a Ngugi and Kaantju man from Cairns, is proud of his family’s history and service to Defence.

Posted to Amberley as a firefighter, he is one of more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aviators in Air Force today.

“I joined because of my grandfather, and pretty much most of my family fought in the World Wars,” Leading Aircraftman Solinas said.

“It was my heritage that made me proud to join up, and in a way, joining up was about respecting myself as well as doing a great job.”

Air Force is focused on better inclusion and increasing understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture across the organisation.

Initiatives include the appointment of an Air Force Indigenous Elder, formation of the Senior Indigenous Leadership Circle and appointing Indigenous Liaison Officers at bases who are a valuable point of contact, information and support, allowing Air Force to better engage with local communities.

The ‘Share Your Heritage’ campaign is another step in Air Force’s journey to ensure it offers a culturally safe workplace, is a diverse employer of choice, and it reaches its full potential.

The campaign used video to capture some of the stories of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aviators, as they talk about their heritage and thoughts on how we can all share our stories in Defence.

Ray says it is a very satisfying experience telling his mates some of his family history.

“I feel that once my mates hear my stories, they better understand me and they also share their stories with me,” Leading Aircraftman Solinas said.

“Just be proud of who you are, don’t be ashamed about your past, don’t back down and take the opportunity to share your stories.”